In the second of our Heritage Open Day triple-bill, we hear from Rob Kilner of Workers Lunchtime, on a map event for Heritage Open Days 2020…If this is of interest – be quick! The maps will be on display until September 29. 

YOU ARE HERE is a temporary poster exhibition on the streets of Leeds to coincide with Heritage Open Days 2020.

Ten maps, through three centuries, show the development of a small, riverside, Yorkshire Dales town into a major city through various industrial revolutions. The beautiful, grubby, old maps are sequenced backwards in time from 1932 (1/10) to 1726 (10/10) because there are more surprises that way…

The poster trail starts at the junction of Wellington Street and King Street and winds its way through the city to finish on Kirkgate, its oldest street. Each poster is marked to show where you are, and where the next map is. There’s no set route so find your own way from map to map, or lose yourself, in the streets, squares, yards, folds and garths. The ten map locations are:

  • Junction of Wellington Street/King Street
  • Junction of Park Street/Westgate
  • Top of Cookridge Street, then round the corner to…
  • Woodhouse Lane
  • Junction of Albion Street/Woodhouse Lane
  • Merrion Street
  • Eastgate by the Job Centre
  • Boar Lane
  • Swinegate
  • New York Street/Kirkgate

As you travel through the maps some of the streets and buildings may be familiar. Others appear and disappear. The Heritage Open Day theme for 2020 is Hidden Nature, and the maps show some of the orchards, farms, tea gardens, wells, becks, footpaths and fields that have been covered with years of cobbles, concrete, and tarmac.

And it’s not just nature that’s hidden under the 21st century city.  There are ghosts of graveyards, workhouses, breweries and bridges; forgotten places like Timble, Eye Bright Place, Steander, Fearns Island; and countless foundations of workshops, factories, and hundreds of homes.

Maps are not just about representing what’s on the ground but are also representations of power, ideas and influence. The oldest map of 1726 illustrates this by featuring the houses of the some of the more well-to-do members of the town.

Image shows map of Leeds in the 18th-century
Extract from Cossins’ 1726 map of Leeds town centre (c) Leeds Libraries

The trail is about 2.5 miles. If you require a modern map to find your way there’s a Google one below.

YOU ARE HERE is a project with funding by Leeds Civic Trust, with additional support from The Thoresby Society and The Leeds Library. The artwork is by Creative Arthur, and the printing by FYI.


Contact the Local and Family History department of Leeds Central Library on 0113 37 86982 or via localandfamilyhistory@leeds.gov.uk to enquire about more historical maps of Leeds and Yorkshire. Our Maps research guide describes the main types of maps we hold, and some of the most significant. You can also view all our map articles on this blog. 

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